Kashmir – An Outstanding Issue that Needs to be Resolved

The unrest in former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir pre-dates the partition of India but it did become main dispute between India and Pakistan, ever since these two states became independent. It is one of the longest disputes registered with the UN Security Council. Diplomatic means and wars have failed to decide the issue. Due to the non-resolution this long outstanding conflict, not only have the Kashmiris suffered, peace and stability has eluded the people of the South Asian subcontinent, which is home to approximately one fifth of the world population.
Pakistan has always supported the Kashmiris legitimate right to self-determination and has done its best to keep the issue alive at the international forums. Ever since young Burhan Wani was killed by the forces of occupation in 2016, Kashmir is up in flames again. Stone pelting youth have taken to the streets to protest against the brutality and repression. Kashmir continues to bleed and there seems to be no end in sight. There is a dire need for a serious re-think of how this issue can be revived and resolved in the best interests of all parties involved and in the interest of peace and stability in the region. This paper attempts to provide some policy options to resolve the issue of Kashmir.

Keywords: Kashmir, policy options, plebiscite, dialogue.

Kashmir conflict is largely considered to have initiated in the aftermath of the independence of India and Pakistan from the British rule in 1947. However, this is not the case. The agitation in Kashmir existed long before India and Pakistan came to own this dispute as the primary bone of contention between the two states.
The British sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh Dogra in 1846 under the Treaty of Amritsar in 1846 for a paltry sum of 7.5 million Nanakshahi rupees. Gulab Singh was a tyrant and made the lives of his Muslim citizens hell by taxing almost everything and by treating them as slaves and serfs. The Kashmiris chaffed under the tyrannical rule of the Dogra ruler. They were deprived of basic political, economic and religious rights which led to mass protests and revolts. The famous incident of July 1931, when 22 Kashmiris were shot dead in their attempts to complete the call for prayer outside the Srinagar central jail, is an important evidence to the Dogra oppression. State forces were rushed to crush the protest on the orders of Maharaja Hari Singh.
The Kashmiris expected that the partition of India would bring an end to their miseries. The Indian independence act of 1947 that called for the rulers of the 560 or so princely states to keep in mind the geography and demographics of their states while opting for either India or Pakistan. The state of Jammu and Kashmir had a majority Muslim population and its lines of communications were intrinsically linked to the new dominion of Pakistan. The Hindu Maharaja wanted to remain independent and signed a standstill agreement with both Pakistan and India. Pakistan agreed immediately but India delayed. As the Maharaja dithered, a popular revolt broke out spearheaded by the demobilised soldiers in Poonch. The tribesmen from the tribal areas of Pakistan came out in support of their Kashmiri brethren. In Gilgirt wazarat, the scouts arrested the viceroy sent by the maharaja and liberate Gilgit and Baltistan. The Indian government pressurised the Maharaja to accede to India but even before the dubious Instrument of Accession was signed, 1st Sikh Light Infantry battalion was air dashed to Srinagar on 26 October to stop the tribesmen. Mr Jinnah asked his British acting Commander in Chief Gen Gracey to respond militarily. Gracey refused citing that there were British officers on the other side and that he was still taking orders from the Joint Command in New Delhi under Field Marshal Auchinlek. Volunteer officers took leave from duty to join battle before the Pakistan Army could be formally inducted. Battle lines soon stabilised and the areas under Pakistani control and Indian occupation have more or less remained the same.
The Anatomy of the Conflict
The conflict over Kashmir has followed an uneven trajectory. After the first war in Kashmir. India took the issue to the UN on January 1, 1948. Under article 35 of the UN charter, India appealed to the UN Security Council for an intervention in the matter. As a result a UN Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was formed. The UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 39 adopted on January 20, 1948 offered to assist in the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict by setting up a commission of three members; two members to be chosen by the two countries directly i.e. one by India and one by Pakistan and the remaining one member to be chosen by the first two members of the commission. The commission was responsible for the investigation of the facts and to carry out the directions of the Security Council. Furthermore, the Commission was to write a joint letter advising the Security Council on what course of action would be best to help further peace in the region. Over the course of a few months, another UN Security Council resolution was passed pertaining to the matter.
Over the course of a year, an armistice was enforced between the two countries; laying the foundations of the ceasefire line (CFL) which was finally established under the Karachi Agreement of 1949. The CFL is now referred to as the Line of Control (LoC). The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was deployed to monitor the ceasefire in January 1949. Since the issue was brought up in the UN, several Security Council resolutions were passed to seek a solution of the conflict in Kashmir. Stating broadly, UNSC recommends a plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir to ascertain the choice of the people; whether they want to join Pakistan or India. UN Security Council resolution 39 is among the first ones in the series of resolutions addressing the issue of Kashmir.
The UNSCR 47 adopted on April 21, 1948, increased the number of the members of the Commission, decided to be three by the UNSC 39, to five. This allowed the inclusion of the representatives from Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Czechoslovakia or the United States of America in the commission. This resolution also instructed the Commission to facilitate the governments of the two states in restoring peace and order to Jammu and Kashmir and prepare for plebiscite in the region. For this, the resolution recommended three steps; withdrawing Pakistani nationals from Kashmir, reducing Indian forces in the region and appointing a plebiscite administrator nominated by the United Nations. This resolution was followed by two resolutions from the UNCIP; one of August 13, 1948 and the other of January 5, 1949. These two laid emphasis on the ceasefire, reaching to a truce agreement and determining the conditions to ensure a free and impartial plebiscite in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The next Security Council resolution on Kashmir was not passed until March 1950.
Both India and Pakistan agreed upon the plebiscite to be conducted and the preconditions for it. UNSCR 80 adopted on March 14, 1950, was based on the report by Canadian Gen. A. G. L. McNaughton of his discussion with the Indian and Pakistani representatives with the same perspective. The decision taken by the Security Council on December 17, 1949 laid down the foundations of this discussion. The resolution appreciated the governments of India and Pakistan on reaching agreements, in the form of the UN commission’s resolutions of August 1948 and January 1949, for ceasefire, demilitarization of the region and determining its fate according to the will of the people through free and impartial plebiscite. The resolution also commended the parties especially for implementing ceasefire, establishing the CFL and agreeing upon the plebiscite administrator. The resolution called upon the two governments to move ahead and plan and execute substantial steps for the conflict resolution by creating and maintaining an environment for negotiation. After this, No resolution was passed in the UN Security Council for almost a year.
The challenges to conducting a free and fair plebiscite still persisted which were highlighted by Sir Owen Dixon, who served as the UN representative for India and Pakistan (with regard to UNSCR 80), in his report. The UNSCR 91, adopted on March 30, 1951, was based on the aforementioned report. In line with the previous resolutions, this resolution also laid great emphasis on deciding the future of Jammu and Kashmir through the democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite to which the governments of India and Pakistan had previously consented and also reaffirmed. According to Sir Owen Dixon’s report, the extent to which the functions of the government of Jammu and Kashmir will be in control and the procedure and the extent of demilitarization of the region needed as a precursor of the plebiscite were the primary points of disagreement between India and Pakistan. This resolution called upon India and Pakistan to accept arbitration to resolve all sorts of disagreements; for which the arbitrator(s) was to be appointed by the President of the International Court of Justice after consultation with the two parties. The plebiscite, as affirmed earlier, was to be conducted under the auspices of the UN; since the Security Council considered it its responsibility to facilitate in reaching to a prompt as well as an amicable solution to the Kashmir conflict – in order to maintain international peace and security. Following this resolution, the Security Council remained relatively silent over the matter, and took some years before the next resolution on Kashmir was passed.
The UNSCR 122, adopted on January 24, 1957, once again reminded the governments of India and Pakistan regarding the final disposition of the Kashmir conflict which would be based on the democratic process of the free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the UN. The resolution reaffirmed that the convening of the constituent assembly, as recommended by the general council of the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, and any action taken by that Assembly would not be considered as the decision for the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Through this resolution, the Security Council further decided to continue its considerations of the dispute. UNSCR 122 was passed by 10 votes to none; USSR abstained from voting. Once again, this resolution was followed by an interval of several years before the next resolution was passed. It was the military action then which revived the conflict in the memory of the Security Council.
The year of 1965 witnessed hostilities between India and Pakistan which further extended their course of action along the CFL in Kashmir; resulting in the collapse of the ceasefire agreement of 1949. This led the Security Council to adopt a number of resolutions. UNSC resolution 209 of September 4, UNSC resolution 210 of September 6, UNSC resolution 211 of September 20, UNSC resolution 214 of September 27 and UNSC resolution 215 of November 5, all were the part of this series. They all reiterated the need of the implementation of the ceasefire between India and Pakistan not only along the CFL in Kashmir but also along the international border.
Prior to these, the President of the UN Security Council, in his statement of May 18, 1964, had already stated that an amicable resolution of the conflict between India and Pakistan, centred on Jammu and Kashmir, is in the interest of the regional as well as the world peace. After 1965, the issue of Jammu & Kashmir did not remain that much alive in the Security Council as it was previously, yet sometimes grabbed attention later as well. The UNSCR 307 of December 21, 1971 also repeated the need of implementation of ceasefire as the relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated once more. Despite these diplomatic efforts going on, Pakistan was not contented with the status quo established in the region. This discontentment motivated Pakistan in attempting to defreeze the status quo in the region through military actions.
Phase II: Attempts to Defreeze the Status Quo
Over time the Government of India reneged on its promises to hold a free and fair plebiscite in Kashmir to determine the will of the people. The status quo on Kashmir put the issue on ice and the world at large began to forget it. There were attempts by Pakistan to defreeze the issue. These attempts led to the war 1965 and a heightened border clash in Kargil in 1999. The trajectory of both short term military engagements were the same. Kashmir did come into the limelight momentarily but there was no resolution of the conflict. In 1965, Pakistan sent infiltrators in the occupied territories to trigger a war for liberation under the code name Operation Gibraltar. India retaliated by attacking Pakistan across the international border. Contrary to this perception, Pakistan had played a significant role in that uprising. Many who appeared to be freedom fighters were the insurgents sent from the Pakistani side. Their mission was to intersect the supply points of the Indian forces and choke their services. but the plan did not work as it was expected and Pakistan lost a great deal not only in the form of an unsuccessful operation to fulfil the mission of liberating Kashmir but also in the form of a full grown war between the two countries. Despite this failed endeavour, Pakistan once again attempted to defreeze the status quo in 1999.
During May to July 1999, Pakistan and India found themselves in another armed confrontation with each other; once again motivated by the actions of Pakistan. Pakistani troops entered the Indian side of the LoC into the district of Kargil which is a part of Kashmir held by India. This warfare had much more difficulties involved owing to the mountainous terrain and high altitudes. Moreover, this was the first armed conflict between the two countries after both the states conducted successful nuclear tests and declared themselves atomic powers. Though Pakistan did not admit a direct involvement in the action and put the responsibility on the militants from Kashmir, these claims gathered little evidential support. Later, involvement of Pakistan was admitted by political and military leaders. The Indian forces recaptured a major part of the district that was infiltrated by the insurgents and the rest was surrendered owing to the international opposition. The joint statement released by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the US President Bill Clinton on July 4, 1999 stated negotiations between India and Pakistan to be the only solution to the disputes between the two states. Though the Kargil war was a success in bringing the issue of Kashmir in the international limelight, this was achieved at the cost of the reputation of Pakistan. However, military front was not the only way in which Pakistan has fought the case of Kashmir, Pakistan has also fought on the diplomatic fronts. This resulted in multiple accords, with or without moderation, between the republic of India and the Islamic republic of Pakistan.
Bilateral accords
The 1965 war between India and Pakistan, with its roots in the issue of Kashmir, was followed by a bilateral accord between the two states known as the Tashkent declaration (named after the place the conference was held – Tashkent in Uzbek SSR of that time) with soviets as the moderators. The declaration was signed by the Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and the Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan in January 1966. According to the declaration, both the countries were to evacuate the areas captured in the 1965 war and to return to and respect the CFL in Kashmir which was agreed upon in 1949. This was not the only instance when Pakistan and India entered into a declaration following an armed confrontation.
Another agreement following another war between India and Pakistan is the Simla agreement signed in July 1972. The agreement was signed by the two Prime Ministers, Indra Gandhi of India and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan. Though the 1971 war between India and Pakistan was not founded in the dispute over the region of Jammu and Kashmir, still the Simla agreement is of significant importance when discussing the Kashmir dispute. Through this agreement, the two countries agreed to “settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them”. India uses this clause to make the Kashmir issue bilateral; denying the legitimacy of any third party, including the United Nations, to play any role in the matter. However, Pakistan does not agree with this stance. Furthermore, the Simla agreement transformed the CFL between India and Pakistan into the LoC. After the Simla agreement, no significant talks were held between India and Pakistan concerning the issue of Jammu and Kashmir for almost two and a half decade.
1997 marked the resumption of the high level talks between India and Pakistan. This was also appreciated by the UN secretary general Kofi Annan. In April, Gohar Ayub Khan, the then foreign minister of Pakistan, expressed hope of resolution of all outstanding issues between the two states including Kashmir through the dialogue process on-going at that time. The Indian Prime Minister IK Gujral also expressed optimism pertaining to the ties between the two countries. Following a meeting, in May, between the two Prime Ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Gujral, the former expressed hopes regarding the withdrawal of Indian troops from the occupied valley. In the Islamabad declaration of June 1997, the future talks for the resolution of the issues related to Jammu and Kashmir were agreed upon between the two foreign secretaries. Shortly after this, another attempt was made to improve the ties between the two countries and solve the disputes.
The Lahore declaration of February 1999, although primarily a nuclear control agreement and a part of the series in the efforts of confidence building between India and Pakistan, also discussed the resolution of all outstanding disputes, including that of Kashmir, through negotiations; considering it to be important for the development and maintenance of an environment of peace and security in the region. The agreement laid stress over the bilateral dialogue and increased efforts to resolve all disputes including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The will to resolve the issues peacefully was also depicted in 2004. During the summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in January 2004, when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee met with each other in Islamabad. The two leaders agreed to hold composite dialogue for the resolution of the disputes between the two states. They also agreed to hold talks in order to resolve the dispute over the region of Jammu and Kashmir. A similar commitment was made once again in 2009.
The Prime Ministers of the two countries, Yousaf Raza Gilani (Pakistan) and Manmohan Singh (India) met on the sidelines of the Non Aligned Movement summit in July 2009 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al Shaikh. The two leaders resolved over the importance of the bilateral composite dialogue process. The Indian Prime Minister stated the willingness of India to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues. However, there was no particular reference to the dispute over the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the joint statement. Discussing all these diplomatic efforts over the issue of Kashmir and the bilateral accords pertaining to the matter is important to develop a comprehensive understanding of the conflict and the attempts for its resolution; yet understanding the current situation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir is also very important considering the dynamic nature of the conflict.
The Current Situation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir
To understand the current situation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, it is important to view it from the two perspectives separately; that of India and Pakistan. For India, the issue is a closed case and it is not willing to negotiate over the matter. India has, on February 5, 1964, already backed out of the commitment to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir and through a bill passed in the parliament in March 1965, declared Jammu and Kashmir a province of India; stating it to be an integral part of the Republic of India. India has not only backed out of its commitment to a free and impartial plebiscite in the valley but has also raised objections regarding the involvement of any third party, including the UN, in the matter. India has since long regarded and presented the issue of Kashmir as a bilateral dispute with Pakistan for which it would not accept any arbitration; India stands by this approach till this day. However, Pakistan holds contrasting views regarding the conflict over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan wants a negotiated settlement to the conundrum; which is in the best interest of all parties – India and Pakistan as well as Kashmir. Kashmir has long been referred to as the jugular vein of Pakistan; Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has always reiterated this notion. The significance of Kashmir for Pakistan renders the resolution of this issue even more important for Pakistan. For the purpose, Pakistan continues to raise the issue on all possible forums. Maleeha Lodhi, the present permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN has, on several occasions, highlighted the atrocities being carried out in the Jammu and Kashmir region by the Indian forces and continues to demand for a free and impartial plebiscite in the region. In his speech to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 29, 2018, the current Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, also raised the matter and highlighted the need for putting an end to the human rights violations being carried out in the region. The current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran khan, has also invited the Indian authorities for negotiations over all disputes including that of Kashmir. However, there seems to be no movement at the moment from the Indian side. Despite New Delhi agreeing to enter into talks with Pakistan, in the form of the meeting of the two Foreign Ministers on the side-line of the UN General Assembly, India cancelled the meeting. Thus, situations like these leave little chances of an early and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict. For the conflict to resolve, it is also very important that the voices of the people from the Jammu and Kashmir region are heard.
What do the Kashmiris Want?
Jammu & Kashmir is home to a population of more than 12.5 million. The fate of the residents is very much connected to the fate of the region. Thus, it is vital to know what the population of the region wants before suggesting any sort of way out of this conflict. With technological advancements and ease of communication, it is not very hard to conduct surveys and find out (in a scientific way) what is the dominant will of the residents of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The conflict over Kashmir has claimed lives of at least 47,000 people while some human rights and non-governmental organisations estimate this death toll to be much higher. This protracted conflict has not only resulted in the continued subjugation of the Kashmiris, the deprivation from freedom and an everlasting delay in exercising the right to self-determination, but also has incorporated grave humanitarian aspects. The Kashmiris are experiencing immense violence at the hands of the Indian forces and are facing gross human rights violations in every possible form including sexual violence and extrajudicial killings.
In all these circumstances, the Kashmiris want their voices to be heard; the movement now is largely an indigenous and youth-driven and should be presented with its true spirits. Burhan Wani, a youth leader brutally killed in 2016, is considered a hero and an icon for struggle. Kashmiris are resisting the Indian forces even without arms; the only arms they have are stones. The residents of Jammu and Kashmir want themselves to be heard and to be represented in the international community. This is their movement and they are to decide what they want for themselves. They want freedom from the oppression of the Indian forces of occupation. They want an end to the gross human rights violations. They want to decide their own destiny by exercising their right, which is internationally recognised, to self-determination. Considering all this, Pakistan needs to devise its strategy accordingly.
The Way Forward
To point in the right direction and identify the correct way forward, there is a need of a proper plan of action. Pakistan’s principled stance on Kashmir is based on UNSCRs calling for a free and fair plebiscite in Kashmir. This right has also been acknowledged in the UNSC resolutions which call for a free and impartial plebiscite in the region. It is time for Pakistan to launch an effective diplomatic campaign for the cause of Kashmir.
Pakistan, however, has primarily been functioning on the knee jerk reflex i.e. condemning the atrocities that are taking place in the occupied Valley and making the mandatory statements in the UN and other international forums re-emphasizing the need to find a solution to this long festering problem. There is a greater need for Pakistan to be proactive in the matter so it may be able to fight the case of Kashmir in a better way. For this, it is very important that Pakistan determines the national aim regarding the conflict centred on the Jammu and Kashmir region and develops a consensus over that aim not only in the government sectors but also in the population nationwide. This requires a clearly articulated Kashmir policy with a meaningful vision. Pakistan cannot formulate this policy on its own; the voices of Kashmiris should be incorporated.
Kashmiris from both sides of the LoC should be involved for the purpose. The people from Jammu and Kashmir can be brought on board and their opinions and feelings can be gauged using surveys and other such similar tools. The advancements in technology and the relative ease of communication will certainly facilitate Pakistan in such attempts despite the fact that cellular and internet services are suspended quite frequently by the Indian administration to curb the resistance and to hush up the voices of the Kashmiris. Not only the residents of Jammu and Kashmir but other people can also play significant role for this conflict to resolve.
Apart from the local population, Pakistan should also attempt to engage the new leadership of the Kashmir movement which includes the educated stone-pelting youth of the occupied region. Their engagement is important as these new voices are now replacing the old and aging Hurriyat leadership. Furthermore, there are several voices from inside the Republic of India which resonate with that of Pakistan. Islamabad should not only acknowledge them but also encourage them to advocate, inside India, for a negotiated peaceful resolution of the conflict which is in the best interest of all parties. Moreover, there is Kashmiri diaspora in countries abroad which can also play a vital role. Pakistan should involve them in its attempts to lessen the pain of the population of the occupied valley. They can serve the purpose by highlighting the issue in their respective countries of residence and further attracting the attention of others including their respective governments and the international bodies. Pakistan should also focus its energies on improving its lobbying efforts especially in the countries which have a greater say in the international community. For all this, Pakistan should be very clear about what it wants to achieve.
There is a greater need to ascertain what the end objective is; if Pakistan will focus all its energies for plebiscite or will consider the four point formula proposed by the former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, or if Pakistan will strive for an independent Kashmir. This demands for a greater flexibility in approach and a greater consideration for the changing dynamics on ground. Setting the minimum and maximum expectations will certainly bring more clarity to the set strategy. Not only the end objective, but the timelines are also very significant when deciding what course of action to take. Pakistan should have a clear understanding of what it wants to achieve in the short term, i.e. in a time of 5 to 10 years, and what it expects of itself to achieve in the long term, i.e. in 10 to 20 years. Determining all these factors will facilitate Pakistan to come up with an effective and coherent strategy to stand by the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
This is not possible without bringing committed and dedicated people on board and a well-organised Parliamentary Special Committee on Kashmir with a full-time head. Allocation of resources for a diplomatic campaign is also crucial. Accountability mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure the effectiveness of the system in order to accomplish tangible results. The different strategies devised by Pakistan to address the issue should be coherent in nature and complementing each other and ensure comprehensiveness and consistency. No act from Pakistan should be void of the considerations regarding the end objective of those attempts or actions. Only then, Pakistan can play an effective role in finding solution to the prolonged conflict of Kashmir and facilitate the younger generations in leading a peaceful life; so they may get what they deserve without pelting stones or being shot with the pellet guns.
The roots of the conflict in the region of Jammu and Kashmir can be traced back to the Dogra rule when the locals struggled to get freedom from the oppressions of their ruler. The situation in the valley was worsened when, against the will of the people, the ruler executed the instrument of accession with India. From that day onwards, India and Pakistan have remained in dispute with each other over the matter of Kashmir. The conflict in the Jammu and Kashmir continues to be among the oldest conflicts registered with the UN. This paper discusses the attempts made by the Security Council for the resolution of the conflict in the form of several Security Council resolutions – which all advocate for the right to self-determination – iterating the need of a free and impartial plebiscite in the region to determine the status of the state. This is followed by the military efforts carried out by Pakistan in order to liberate the population of Kashmir from the oppressions of India. This paper, then, discusses the negotiation attempts and the accords between India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute peacefully. Dwelling upon the current situation between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and the needs and desires of the population of Jammu and Kashmir, this paper presents the way forward for Pakistan; arguing that a comprehensive, coherent and consistent policy is important on part of Pakistan, based on what the local population of Jammu & Kashmir needs and wants, for an amicable resolution of the conflict.

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